The Yedikule neighborhood of Istanbul is on edge as bulldozers recently razed two gardens that have been cultivated for the last 1,500 years, The Atlantic Cities reports. This is taking place in tandem with the ongoing Gezi Park saga despite a court’s ruling that the latter should not be cleared to make way for a shopping mall.
Dating back to the 400’s, the farms are located beside the ancient walls encircling Istanbul’s historic core, writes Jennifer Hattam, who we have interviewed in the past about her work with the popular eco-blog Treehugger.
“Though the people working there change, these gardens have been part of the urban landscape of Istanbul for arguably longer than [the 6th-century basilica] Hagia Sophia itself,” Tuğba Tanyeri-Erdemir, a lecturer in architectural history at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, told Hattam.
He added that they are fundamental to the city’s identity and should be preserved as such.
Unlike Gezi Park, one of the few remaining green spaces in the heart of the city, these gardens are slated to be replaced with an urban park (instead of another shopping mall.)
It will have an artificial river, playgrounds, cafes and water fountains. Sounds kind of nice, right?
For one mother, it sounds like heaven. At last there’s a chance her children will know something other than concrete. But the farmers have nowhere else to go.
“I don’t know what we’ll do, where we’ll go if our land gets destroyed as well. We don’t have anything else,” one woman told Jennifer. She and her husband eek out a meager living selling their small selection of crops at the Istabul wholesale market.
Hattam raises some interesting points about urban planning, which is becoming increasingly arbitrary and capricious in Turkey, perhaps reflecting the current government.
When a handful of people protested the Gezi Park project, local authorities responded with tear gas and water cannons, prompting thousands of people in cities across the country to pour out into the streets, along with their baggage of pent up anti-government anger.
The Yedikule neighborhood, which erupted in angry shouting last week at a press conference, is concerned about attracting a similar outcome.
Image of Turkish walls via Shutterstock